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Philly Pretzel Factory CEO Goes ‘Undercover’

Dan DiZio, CEO and co-founder of Philly Pretzel Factory, which sells more than 100 million pretzels each year, goes undercover on UNDERCOVER BOSS. (Credit: ©Studio Lambert)

Dan DiZio, CEO and co-founder of Philly Pretzel Factory, which sells more than 100 million pretzels each year, goes undercover on UNDERCOVER BOSS. (Credit: ©Studio Lambert)

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By Ian Bush and Susan Barnett

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – From CEO to spy: the boss of the Philly Pretzel Factory will be on television tonight, getting an inside look at a side of his own business that he rarely gets to see.

He has more than 100 stores in eight states, but Dan DiZio still needed a convincing disguise.

“They bleached my hair white, cut some lines in the side of my hair to make me look younger and hipper, they put some blue contacts in, gave me a retainer, and shaved some diamond-type marks in the back of my head as well.”

All for the show ‘Undercover Boss,’ tonight at 8 on CBS. Without his employees and franchisees knowing, he trains and works with them on the front lines — and only later unveils who he really is.

In a preview clip from the show, one employee says, “Hi, Michael, nice to meet you. You look familiar, though!”

“Do I?” said “Michael.”

But it sure worked on Gino Spencer, a Philly Pretzel Factory deliveryman.

“I had absolutely no idea!” Spencer said.

In a preview clip from “Undercover Boss,” Gino shows “Michael” how to take a pretzel delivery down a long flight of stairs at Suburban Station.

“As I pushed the cart down the steps, I think I’m going to lose control and lose my grip on the cart,” DiZio said on the show.

The boss also had to go through pretzel twist training. DiZio said, “You know, I’m trying to pretend like I don’t know how to twist pretzels, and I probably twisted millions of pretzels since we got in the business.

“You get real truth and brutal honesty and you can make improvements when you hear the honest thing.”

It’s timely feedback.

“We’ve just rolled out a new kiosk version of our store, which is dramatically less costly to open up. So we’re hoping that allows us to get nationwide over the next year or two.”

He says his pretzel people have tasty ideas for new products.

“We have one franchisee who sort of went rogue on us, and was carrying a product they made up themselves. We made some tweaks to the recipe. It’s a pepperoni melt pretzel, and we’re really excited about it. We’re testing it out at a couple stores, and it’s doing fabulous.”

DiZio says the show taught him it’s best for business to entertain sometimes salty opinions rather than stick to the same old menu.

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